Rohit Malekar

August 14, 2021

If You Aren't Content Without it, You Won't be Content With it


If you aren't content today without what you chase, you won't be content tomorrow in spite of having it. 

How can I be content when I don't have what I seek?

The source of discontent is often not the absence of what you seek. 

It is the inability to accept your present. 

This is also why what we seek is often an ever-changing goal post. At work, it is about the ceaseless chase for that next promotion or a lucrative hike or that elusive role. 

If you have been in your career long enough, you have achieved at least some of these milestones many times over. Yet, the race is on. It is because it was never about the absence of what you seek. You are not content with your present. Acceptance is key to break the vicious circle.

But I don't want to accept who I am today

It is important to realize that your shortcomings don't define you, just the way your future success won't. You may be a terrible public speaker today. You might barely be able to cope up with the demands of a career in programming. You may feel incomplete as a designer looking to create an impact. These are mere snapshots in time. 

Attaching these attributes to your identity is a trap. 

It is the same trap that many professionals cling to even after achieving success. The most coveted award you win, the top leadership title you secure, or the elite neighborhood you hang out in also doesn't define who you are. Yes, they might elevate how you appear to the rest of the world. That is the end of the utility of these labels.
Accept yourself with all your flaws and wants. It will free up your mental energy to focus on the right things. Being your true self in the rain or shine will liberate you.

But won't being content diminish my drive?

Imagine yourself driving home hungry after a long day at work. You are a few blocks away. It is raining and there is traffic. You have two choices. 

You may focus on reaching home as fast as you can to quench the most burning desire - your hunger. You will be under some stress, to say the least, as you do this. You might even cause a dent or two to the car as you push for the pedal. You could even hurt someone as you hustle down the road. Worse, you might hurt yourself badly enough never to reach the destination.

Or you could say to yourself, I am hungry and it is going to take a while to get home. I am going to sit tight and drive mindfully. I don't want to damage my car. I need it for much longer than tonight. I don't want to hurt anyone. I have many important things to do tomorrow than getting caught up in this. I definitely don't think putting my life in danger is worth the 15 minutes I can manage without a bite.

We all would choose to stay in the present and drive with intent. That choice doesn't dent the pursuit, in fact, the food might even taste better. We need to extrapolate this analogy to things we chase in our life. The food is the most pressing thing we are pursuing, like a hike, a role, or a business milestone. The car is anything that is important in your life that you need longer than this pursuit, like your health or your relationships. 

If you can drive cautiously through the dark night with a strong determination in spite of the longing for what you seek, you can make choices in your career to show your intent, to show you can endure, and to show you have the passion to succeed without worrying about it every day. 

Being content and being ambitious can coexist.

(PC: Photo by KIM JINHONG from Pexels)